Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya has announced that the country has recorded 496 new COVID-19 cases out of 1,549 tests done with four new deaths.

And the Ministry of Health has advised members of the public to report directly to University Teaching Hospitals as opposed to private hospitals because they are better equipped in managing COVID-19 patients.

Speaking during the daily update, Monday Dr Chilufya said of the four deaths, three were BIDs from the Copperbelt and one was a facility death at Levy Mwanawasa isolation centre.

“In the last 24 hours Zambia recorded a spike in COVID-19 cases recording 496 new cases out of 1,549 tests done. We also recorded a facility death at Levy and we recorded three BIDs; one in Ndola and two in Chililabombwe. That is a worrisome picture for the Copperbelt. Further, we had in the country, at the Levy Mwanawasa facility, 65 patients who are ill and out of these, seven are in ICU and are requiring critical care. In other parts of the country, we have a total of 28 patients and these patients are in Southern Province (15), they are on the Copperbelt (7), North Western Province and Eastern Province (2). So we continue to see the geographic spread of COVID-19 in the country and we are all summoned to the table to take individual responsibility and collective responsibility to suppress covid in the community and this is doable by wearing masks correctly and ensuring that we wash our hands and avoid crowded places,” said Dr Chilufya.

“We have also discharged a total of 163 patients, that brings the total number of discharges to 8,575 and cumulatively therefore we have a total of 9,839 cases and out of those we have discharged 8,575. The cumulative number of deaths now stand at 264 and we continue to appeal to the public to report early to our facilities.”

And director clinical care and head of the University Teaching Hospitals in Zambia Dr Alex Makupe said patients should not rush for better rooms in private hospitals but to where there is adequate equipment and relevant human resource.

“As we speak today, we have invested as a ministry into the emergency department at the University Teaching Hospitals where we have got 20 bed capacity area that has been supported with machinery and equipment to support the respiratory system because this has been the biggest organ being affected by COVID-19. So in that room, we have got the ventilators and we have got oxygen supply systems where immediately the patient arrives as we swab them, we are able to start managing patients as such. And that has given us good outcomes. Apart from the 20 rooms that are existing in the isolation ward, we’ve got extra 70 bed spaces and this is for male and female patients. And this emergency ward is heavily supported with monitoring systems to the level of the high dependency rooms. This is the best environment that we need. Under covid, people should not rush for better rooms, people should rush to where the equipment is and where the relevant human resource to support the systems are. UTH at the moment is the best place for our people and I encourage all us to move quickly, make that call, come to UTs and we are also simplifying the way we have to do the swabs and looking for results,” he said.

“Traditionally among the affluent of our people, it’s been a process where they first seek assistance from private hospitals and when the patient gets into UTH, they are coming in a terrible, terrible state. The situation is no longer the same at the UTH and I needed to make it clear to the public, Sir, that at the University Teaching Hospitals in terms of human resource, we have got the best competencies in the country and the environment among the government hospitals including the UTHs is now improving for the best and government has heavily invested competitively in the equipment in these hospitals and therefore, there should be no room for us to worry about the current situation in the University Teaching Hospitals. Indeed, it’s very clear, Sir, that there has been some delay from the private hospitals in terms of bringing patients early to the UTHs. COVID-19 infection and disease is not exceptional, outcomes, length of stay in the hospital and expenditure on the part of the family is very much dependent on when the patient can get to the right hospital. We have seen lengthy stay in the hospital for those that delay to come to the hospital. I also needed to say that a good clinician will know when to keep the patient longer and when to refer any and I think that’s the hallmark of being a good physician.”

Dr Makupe said University Teaching Hospitals in the country have enough space.

“The UTHs have got enough space at the moment, we have not even gone halfway through the space that is available to us. You know also that the UTH is linked fully to Levy Mwanawasa UTH which has a bed capacity of 850 beds and so with now the improvement in getting our results, we have been able to empty that space, get our people into Levy for continued management,” said Dr Makupe.